Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 Garden- Part 4, Growing, blooming, and fruiting!

I'm happy to report that our garden is doing quite well so far!  Everything is growing, most things are blooming, and we even have 1 tomato forming!  We did lose a few plants on a windy day when the plastic blew up and damaged them.  We also have some bugs munching on a few leaves.  Not too bad overall.
Growing garden surrounded by a wall of corn
Our corn is about knee high
I don't show the garden from this angle much. 
Blooming squash
Blooming beans
Blooming peppers
Blooming tomatillo (I think)
Titus relaxing by the garden
"Gardening is such hard work!"
"I wait patiently and hope for some goodies from the garden."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Earth Day- For Women Only!

I have been wanting to write this post for a while, and Earth Day (eve) seemed like a great time to share it with my lady friends.  Yes, that's right, this post is only for females!  I don't think I have very many male readers, but there are a few.  Guys, you can just skip this post- we're gonna talk about girl stuff for a bit.  

Are they gone?  No?  Maybe I need to throw a few choice words out to get rid of them.
feminine products

There.  Now are they gone?  Good!  Let's get down to business.

Toward the end of last year, I stumbled upon a blog called One Good Thing, and now I'm hooked.  Jillee writes about cleaning tips, good recipes, and homemade products.  Around the beginning of the year when people were talking about New Years resolutions, she wrote about giving up paper towels for a greener home.  Way down in the comments section (I can't find it anymore), someone mentioned a greener alternative to disposable feminine products. What?!?  There's an alternative to disposable feminine products!?!  I had no idea!

It makes total sense if you think about it.  Did you know that disposable feminine products have only been around for about 100 years?  It's true!  Before that, women found all kinds of ways to take care of business using whatever materials they had on hand (without filling up landfills).  In talking with a few of my female friends, I quickly discovered I was not the only one completely oblivious to reusable products.  I did a lot of research about various products and finally decided to take the plunge.  I have been using a reusable product for my last 3 cycles.  Can I just say I love it!
Now I know some of you are totally grossed out right now.  I understand.  This is a completely foreign concept to our generation (and previous generations too).  I was very unsure at first too and spent several weeks making the decision.  

I'm not going to go into a ton of detail here, but I wanted to get the word out that there are lots of alternatives to disposable products.  Think of all the waste women create during their fertile years, not to mention the waste of money!  If you are interested in knowing more about what I am using, how it works, pros and cons, etc- leave me a message or send me an email.  I'm warning you though, if you ask for more details, you're gonna get details.  I'm a biologist and totally don't mind discussing this kind of stuff :)  I hope to hear from you!  Ask any questions you want.  We can all do our part to live a little greener.  I'd also love to hear from any of you already taking advantage of these products.  What's working for you?

If you want to do a little research on your own, there are many helpful websites.  I used this website more than any other.  I found it to have the most useful information for the product I purchased.  Make sure you click through the links on the right side of the page under "Other Helpful Posts."  The comments are also very helpful because you get opinions from a wide variety of women.  There are many other websites too, but this one was very thorough. 
If you decide you are ready to make a purchase, this website was the cheapest I found.  Prices are similar all over the place, but this site has some products with free shipping and you can sometimes get a coupon through their facebook page or by signing up for their email list.  Now is the time to switch, save, and be green!

Update 3/6/14- I have been using the Lunette cup and homemade cloth pads as back up for over 2 years now.  I cannot tell you how much less I dread my period now.  My lady parts feel so much healthier because I'm not dried out or in any discomfort.  I've saved so much money, and I love knowing I have reduced waste as well.  I will never go back to disposables!  Here's an honest review that Cosmopolitan recently put out on their webpage.   It's a nice overview of available products and thoughts from a first time user. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lab Quote Friday: Packing Peanuts

In Organic Chemistry lab this week, the students made slime, silly putty, and other fun stuff.  They were also observing the difference in various packing peanuts.  During the pre-lab lecture, the professor was explaining the difference between polystyrene packing peanuts (the traditional styrofoam peanuts we've all seen) and polyglucose packing peanuts (the new starch-based biodegradable packing peanuts).  At the end of the lecture a student approached the professor:

Student:  I don't think I'm going to be able to participate in lab today.
Professor:  Oh?  Why is that?
Student:  Well, I'm allergic to peanuts.

Hahaha!  I'm still laughing about this one.  If you have a peanut allergy, you should certainly know the difference between a real peanut and a packing peanut!
Polystyrene packing peanuts
Polyglucose packing peanuts
Cultivated peanuts!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Our Weekend in Fredericksburg

Josh and I have been wanting to spend some time in Fredericksburg for a couple of years.  We finally made it there last weekend!  We had a 3-day weekend, the weather was beautiful, and the wildflowers were in full bloom.  We could not have asked for a better time to go!
On Friday we drove to our campsite (in Luckenbach) and set up camp.  Then we spent the rest of the day in Fredericksburg.  We walked the main street and stopped in a few shops.  We had Titus with us, so we had to take turns standing outside with him.  He got soooo much attention from everyone.  The kids were especially excited to meet such a big, friendly dog.  The weather was nice enough in the evening that we were able to leave Titus in the car while we had a German feast at The Auslander.  After dinner, we headed to Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park, walked the trails, and headed back to our campsite.
On Saturday, we had breakfast at the Old German Bakery and Restaurant before heading to Wildseed Farms.  We spent our entire morning walking through the wildflower fields and shopping in the nursery.  They allow pets there, so again Titus enjoyed a little extra attention.  I think we spent more money on plants and seeds than we did on gas for this trip :)  Josh is planning a wildflower field on our property.
Corn Poppy field
Drummond Phlox
Did you know that there are red and white varieties of blue bonnets?
Corn Poppy field
Titus didn't know why he had to pose for so many pictures :)
This was one of the fields we could actually walk in

On Saturday afternoon, we headed down to Kerrville to explore the Guadalupe River.  We were scoping out sites for future canoe trips and found a few good spots.  Of course Titus had to take a dip.
Guadalupe River
A shallow area- good for splashing around
Titus' favorite place- in the water!

We headed back to Fredericksburg for dinner and ice cream before heading back to the campsite.
Easter Sunday we woke up bright and early to pack up camp and head to Enchanted Rock.  We got there around 7:45am and spent the morning hiking.  We really loved it there- it's like no other place we've been before!
At the trailhead
We made it to the top!
Titus needed a water break
Playing in the cave
We sat on the back side of the rock for quite a while.  It was much less windy than the top and had a great view.
Josh found Mentzelia oligosperma growing on the rock!
Titus enjoyed climbing up and down the steep slopes.
Not a bad view!
We loved how many plants were growing out of the rock.
I'm hoping Josh makes this his new profile pic on facebook.
Hiking down the side of the Enchanted Rock
Moss Lake
Moss Lake with Enchanted Rock

We had a great weekend but left Fredericksburg completely exhausted.
Poor tuckered out old pup was out like a light within 5 minutes
Our armrest is Titus' headrest :)
We will definitely be going back to this area more often!  We took a few more pictures- check out our flickr page.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 Garden- Part 3, All Planted

We spent last weekend in Fredericksburg, but I'm still working on getting through all the pictures from the trip.  Before we left, we finished planting the garden and Josh got the watering system working.  Five days later things are still looking pretty good.  A few plants are showing signs of shock, but they're ok so far.
We're trying a new method of weed control this year.  These plastic row covers help keep moisture in and hopefully will prevent too many weeds from growing.  We're experimenting to see if the black or clear does a better job- we've read conflicting articles.  We plan to just mow the weeds between the rows. The outermost rows will not be covered.  It's good to have everything planted.  Now comes the hard part... waiting :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012 Garden- Part 2, Let the planting begin!

Josh has been growing a bunch of seeds in his growth room at school, and now they're ready to plant!  Here's what Josh has been up to since my last update.
Josh bought a new implement for his tractor that digs shallow trenches.  The outermost 4 rows are actually 2 "U"s and then there are 2 inner straight rows.  Does that make sense?
Josh laid soaker hoses in the trenches before planting some seeds
Bean plants!
Tiny okra!
The rest of our seedlings are ready and waiting.  We are planting various tomatoes, jalapenos, bell peppers, habaneros, green chiles, eggplant, zucchini, various squashes, pumpkin, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber, and honey dew.  I might be forgetting something; I can't keep track of it all.
Hopefully these will all get planted this week.  We started last night.

We also have a little space on the side of our house that we are using this year.  We planted potatoes, onions, and strawberries from bulbs.  So far the potatoes and onions have sprouted, but no sign of the strawberries :(
Potatoes (and a sunflower)
We are excited to report that our peach and apple trees survived the heat from last summer and look pretty good so far this year. 
Peach tree
Look!  Peaches!!
One of our apple trees- still blooming
So I think we are off to a pretty good start.  We learned a lot last year, so it will be interesting to see if our adjustments pay off.  We'll keep you updated!